Why SA Doesn’t Resolve On Its Own
It seems reasonable to assume an SA dog will “get over it,” and that an equally reasonable approach would be to hold off on training awaiting that result. Won’t he realize you come back every time? It would be nice if this was true, but unfortunately, it’s just the opposite. In most cases, dogs with SA don’t get better, they get worse.
Leaving an SA dog alone triggers his fear, which floods his body with stress inducing chemicals. Daily repetition of this triggering results in a hyper-vigilant dog who is always watching you and waiting for signs you’re leaving. As your dog’s eyes follow you, he becomes an expert at identifying the signs of your departure. While putting on a cap and hiking shoes may suggest a fun walk, putting on your work shoes, grabbing your purse and car keys may predict your exit for work without him.
Each time you get ready to go out, your dog watches with growing unease as the clues that he’ll be left alone stack up. This ongoing state of low-level anxiety builds to full-blown panic as you leave, propelling his body to release a cascade of stress chemicals. This repeating cycle of exposure to stress and anxiety typically increases sensitivity to your departures, making it impossible for him to feel calm or safe when left alone. Fortunately, with training, and for some severe cases with the help of medication, dogs can and do learn to stay at home alone.